Currently Browsing: Civil Liberties

A Right Unused …

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before?

Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.

Is this really true? I haven’t exercised my Third Amendment rights ever in my lifetime. I don’t know too many other folks who have either. Yet the Third Amendment is doing so well, the government hardly ever violates it. Additionally, despite a dearth of case law, those which have come up ruled pretty decisively in favor of the right of the citizen. Further, no one seriously argues that the Third Amendment is wrong and ought to be repealed. The Third Amendment is doing pretty well despite falling into disuse!

Now, let’s take a look from the other side. People exercise the right of home ownership pretty regularly, and we trek about with our persons, papers and personal effects on a regular basis. Yet it takes the barest of any pretext for the police to search the ever loving crap out of your personage and vicinity, because most searches have been deemed “reasonable” by the courts. If the Second Amendment ends up being in as poor a shape as the 4th Amendment, by the time all this is said and done, I’ll cry.

I think this is a eloquent way to simply a complex issue to the point where it’s a pleasing thing to think, but doesn’t reflect reality. The answer is the loss of rights is a lot more complex than whether you use it or not, and our community shouldn’t delude itself into thinking otherwise.

Charges Against WV NRA T-Shirt Teen Dropped?

According to a very initial report from WOWK, it seems the criminal charges against the West Virginia teenager who wore an NRA t-shirt to school have been dropped.

As Sebastian said when I informed him of this update, the news of the dropped charges should have come with an apology letter that acknowledges they never should have brought them in the first place. Obviously, that’s unlikely.

I was hearing reports about attempts to organize rallies, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones who highlighted that the judge who banned the media from the courthouse in this case and the district attorney who oversees the two prosecutors who not only brought charges, but then tried to silence the boy and his family, are elected. They can still be sent home during the next election.

Charging Reporters with the Crime of Journalism


A government-approved contract staffer decided to release just enough information to give people the heads up that there is a surveillance program happening that many people may not find to be constitutional. Yet, the media who so obviously support Obama decide that the reporter who broke the story must be punished for the crime of reporting something unfavorable to the government.

In West Virginia, we see something similar happening when it comes to reporting the story of a prosecutor going after a minor for wearing a pro-Second Amendment t-shirt. When the tide turns against the government agent, the judge orders the reporter barred from the courthouse to keep her from filing a petition on behalf of the press in a gag order hearing and the bailiff enforcing the ban threatened the reporter with arrest after reaching to take her camera and microphone. The prosecutor apparently claimed that the state was trying to silence the teen’s legal team and family for their own good.

Dear West Virginia freedom supporters: The judge who ordered the media banned from the courthouse is elected. You can fix this and send him a message about limits on his power. The prosecutor overseeing the two staff attorneys who insist that court orders silencing defendants are the best things for society and individuals is also elected, and his name is John W. Bennett. There you go; you have tools to make positive changes in your local community. (h/t to Miguel for the link on the WV case)

Court Tosses Out Colorado Magazine Restrictions

Sadly, not the magazines you were thinking.

Your Friday Laugh

Even the most jaded should be able to find a little humor in this take on the massive NSA data collection:

Spoofs like this are great ways to spread larger ideas.

The New Realities

Jim Geraghty made this remark in light of the NSA spying leaks: “Of course, you can do the right thing and still break the law.”

Meanwhile, Sesame Street debuts an education kit for helping kids deal with an incarcerated parent.

Clearly, there’s not such an epidemic of questionable spying document dumping in this country that these two things are directly related, but I don’t think they are completely unrelated, either. It’s a sad day when we pretty much joke about how practically everyone is a criminal these days because they’ve probably cross some regulation they never even knew existed.

It reminds me of a Kindle book my mom bought me that I really need to read soon: Trapped: When Acting Ethically is Against the Law

Unfortunately, since the answers to these issues don’t fit into a soundbite, don’t expect any serious discussions about the topic from our political leaders.

This, 1000x This!

Tam’s reaction to the dodge that NSA domestic snooping is just peachy because Bush did it too:

This is exactly the kind of crap that had civil libertarians so disgusted with the previous administration that they decided to give Team Donk a chance, and look what they got in exchange: A bad punchline of an Executive branch. “They told me if I voted for McCain that secret intel organizations would Hoover up all the phone records of every American, and they were right!” Har-de-har-har. It was funny the first thirty-seven times.

And what’s the Mainstream Media doing? Hiding smoking guns like a lovestruck teenager for her gangster boyfriend. If you guys were manning the bridge in ’73, you’d be doing special investigative reports on why security guards should mind their own business when they see a taped door lock. It could be taped for national security reasons! And George Bush taped locks, too!

It always annoys me greatly when people bring up the “Bush did it!” excuse, like that’s some kind of “Get out of Jail Free” card they can play — like everyone else is the same kind of partisan hack as people who assert this defense seem to be. Well, you know, I thought Bush was an asshole too, so what’s your point? In fact, given Bush’s approval ratings at the end of his second term, I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Tuesday News Dump

The gun rights news cycle is getting a little dry, so this news dump will have a few off-topic links.

The Reason-Rupe poll: Congress should cut spending and forget gun control.

The people still don’t approve of Obama’s handling of the gun issue. But gun control is a winner!

Anti-gun groups blowing money to praise O’Malley. Yes. Let us make sure everyone knows he’s a gun control supporter. That ought to help destroy any Presidential ambitions he might have. Also, in Illinois, anti-gun groups are running deceptive ads by showing an M4 firing on full-auto.

But hubris got to them and decided to ignore a basic principle of living and politics in the USA: Leave Gun Owners Alone.” That pretty much sums up the first half of 2013.

The gun control crowd is still applying pressure to swing state Senators. Kelly Ayotte is fighting back.

PA lawmaker wants gun database dismantled. This has taken way too long to fix, and I doubt it’ll happen this session, but I’m glad it’s not being completely forgotten about.

Florida Carry is filing some lawsuits.

Mother Jones discovers building your own gun is legal. The horror! Except there’s some question that the bullet button device on the AK wouldn’t comply with California law because it’s placed too far back, which would allow the magazine to still be detached without the use of a tool. I’m not an expert on this, but I wonder if any of the irony strikes him.

Off topic, but interesting: an Illinois school teacher is in hot water because he taught students about their right against self-incrimination, protected under the 5th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Well, when it comes to the War on Drugs, we can’t be having any of these constitutional rights, now can we? We definitely can’t have the little tykes asserting they have rights that trump the authority of school administrators either.

Government v3.0. One of Kevin’s trademark Überposts.

Instapundit on the proposed media “Shield Law”: “We need protections for journalism, not journalists.

House to House Searching, Not Just Boston Anymore

Police in Nashville have noticed the tactics of the Boston PD and emulated them. Apparently much more quickly than anyone would have anticipated. I thought it was amusing people accusing SayUncle of being anti-cop, given that I don’t think he hates his dad.

I don’t think being wary of civil liberties violating tactics makes one anti-cop. I’m willing to give the police pretty wide berth to apprehend (or kill) violent subjects, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to at least pretend to respect the civil liberties of the people you’re sworn to protect, and to actually be able to hit what you’re aiming at.

We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and it seems more and more apparent we’re a nation of bureaucrats and enforcers, who believe the law to be optional, or at least pliable. Perhaps what’s even more disturbing is a population who seems to have no issue with this state of affairs, as long as it’s not their goose being cooked, and there’s some vague and comforting idea of being made safe.

UPDATE: On the opposite side of the coin, a lot of College Professors don’t live in the real world (not any real surprise, I suppose). If the cops in and around Boston had turned the bombers into swiss cheese in the shootout, I would want to give them a high five. It’s what was done to everyone else who wasn’t the bombers I have a hard time with.

A Constitution? Who Needs It?

Bloomberg thinks we’re going to have to change what we think of the Constitution after Boston. I think right now the Constitution is more important than ever.

“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”

Our greater level of security that we had back in the “olden days,” is due to the fact that it was a society where people looked out after each other and their own. Today, especially in places like Boston and New York, citizens expect the government to do everything for them, and the more government does, the less it does anything particularly well. Even Boston is illustrative of the utter failure of government. It wasn’t until the lockdown was lifted that an observant citizen decided to take a look in his boat, and sure enough… terrorist in his boat. Again, just like 9/11, it was citizens that caught him, even with all the Forth Amendment violations the police were using. Police work better with an engaged citizenry than a bunch of passive sheep.

What if instead of doing house to house searches they asked everyone to go and inspect their yards, sheds, and yes, boats (as I think most of us would have wanted to do if this had been going on in our neighborhood)? Well, we can’t have that. Someone might get hurt. But having the King’s men spraying bullets all over a suburban neighborhood and pointing guns at the good citizenry while they go door to door searching? Well, you can trust us, we’re professionals, from the government, and here to help.

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